Print Header

Marijuana and Youth

​​​​​​​​​​​Canadian youth are the top users of marijuana in the developed world according to a 2013 UNICEF Office of Research report. Despite a decrease in marijuana use among youth in recent years, marijuana remains the most commonly used illegal drug among Canadian youth, 15 to 24 years of age.

The number of youth (22%) and young adults (26%) who used marijuana in 2013 was more than two and a half times that of adults 25 and older (8%) according to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey (CTADS).

Why is it important to address youth marijuana use?

  • Adolescents are particularly at risk for marijuana-related harms since their brains are undergoing rapid, extensive development.

  • Research tells us that chronic marijuana use is associated with  memory, thinking and attention difficulties, particularly among those who began using marijuana in early adolescence.

  • Chronic use might also increase the risk of psychosis, depression and anxiety, in addition to respiratory conditions and possibly lung cancer, for adults as well as youth.

What CCSA is doing to address youth marijuana use

  • Conducted qualitative research, speaking with youth across the country to understand their views about marijuana. See the technical report, What Canadian Youth Think about Cannabis (2013) and Canadian Youth Perceptions on Cannabis (2017).

  • Developed a fiv​​e-part marijuana research series, Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis, which includes a look at marijuana’s impact on cognitive functioning and mental health, respiratory functioning, pregnancy and driving. The series also reviews the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

  • Conducted a ​meta-analytic review of school-based prevention programs​ for marijuana use in an attempt to identify features that influenced program effectiveness.

  • Released The Effects of Cannabis Use during Adolescence​, the next installment of the Substance Abuse in Canada research series. This report gives parents​, teachers, healthcare providers and policy makers the opportunity to use the evidence in the report to develop and employ more effective youth drug use prevention and intervention programs.